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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Internal Dissensions of Christians
By François Fénelon (1651–1715)
 
From ‘A Sermon for St. Bernard’s Day’: Translation of Thomas Joseph Shahan

O SOUL that burnest with the fire of Jesus, come with haste and learn in Bernard’s exposition of the canticles the consolations, the trials, and the martyrdom of those spouses whom a jealous God would purify! How is it that to mankind in the decline of time and in an epoch of crowding visitations, a man appears who would have been the glory and the joy of the early ages? It is because, like her spouse, the Church is clothed with an imperishable beauty, and despite her age, is still the ever-fruitful. Did not the world need a renewal of light in a time of confusion and sin? Alas! those iniquitous days are not yet gone, my brethren; what do we behold about us even now? That which we would gladly never behold,—vanity of vanities, and still more vanity, with toil and affliction of spirit beneath the sun! When I look on so much evil I rejoice with the dead, and I pity the estate of the living. What can be in store for us? In the North, proud and fantastic sects, the fruit of another age, trifle with the Scriptures, and justify thereby every strange vision of their hearts. It is not enough, however, that they should lift their mouths against God and blaspheme the Church, but the very children of the Church must rend the entrails of their mother, and cover her with opprobrium. It seems a miracle of grace that some Christians are saved in this deluge of corruption, and that not all are made frantic by ambition. The multitude adores deities of flesh and blood; from them it hopes to obtain a so-called fortune. The hearts of men are enchained by the demon of avarice, which St. Paul calls an idolatry. It is true indeed, with St. Chrysostom, that they no longer adore gods of gold and silver,—they adore the gold and silver themselves, and in them set all their hope; very far from selling all things, like the primitive Christians, they never cease from buying; nay, they acquire by ceaseless rapacity, by endless artifice, and by the forceful use of authority. Look upon those Christians who rend one another, who lacerate one another, who sharpen their poison-dripping tongues, and fit weapons to their hands that they may imbue them in the blood of their brethren! Behold how they are lost to all sense of shame, sunk in their own vile pleasures, brutalized by their monstrous passions! From them God has withdrawn himself, and in his anger he has given them over to the desires of their own hearts. They believe that they see and hear all things, yet in reality they see and hear nothing. They walk as men who tremblingly feel their way along the edge of an abyss. They are like tottering men overpowered by drunkenness, and they will die ignorant of who they are and whence they came.  1
 
 
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